HOUSTON -- Despite pitching a combined 10 2/3 innings in two four-hour marathons to start this four-game series at Minute Maid Park, the Nationals bullpen is in relatively good shape.
Washington manager Davey Johnson said he hasn't heard any of his seven relievers asking for a day off, but he's granting one Wednesday to his two "closer types," Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen.
With a shortened bullpen, Edwin Jackson skipped his usual throw day Wednesday and will join the relief corps just in case a third straight extra-inning affair breaks out and the Nationals need another arm to back up starter Gio Gonzalez. That way, Jackson will get in his scheduled between-starts work and potentially help out a taxed bullpen if they need it.
"This is what we did in the day when we carried 10 pitchers," Johnson said. "A lot of times you'd go to your starter on his throw day and try to get an inning or two out of him."
Clippard has worked five of the past six games, and Storen has pitched in four of the last five. Johnson wanted to stay away from Storen each of the past two nights, but that didn't work out as planned. He was encouraged to see Storen so eager to throw three straight days, albeit with a caveat.
"It was really good. He was lying," Johnson said, breaking into a smile. "When he came in [after pitching Tuesday], he said, 'My tank is empty.' He only faced two batters. But that's the makeup out there. It's always been, all of them.
"He's used to throwing every day. I haven't actually had anybody on this staff come in. I have in the past."
If a save situation does come up with Clippard and Storen unavailable, Johnson likes his options in Sean Burnett, Michael Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny, Craig Stammen and Ryan Mattheus.
"I have five guys out there that I'm comfortable with closing with. They've all done it," Johnson said. "We'll see what happens. Maybe Gio goes nine.
"He's been throwing good. He won't be on any pitch count."